Market Perspective for March 10, 2024

The first full week in March was a consequential one as the nonfarm payroll (NFP) was released on Friday. However, it was far from the only important news that came out over the past five trading days.

On Tuesday, the ISM Services PMI was released and revealed a slight slowdown in service sector demand. The March report came in at 52.6 percent, which was slightly lower than the projected 53 percent before the news was released and was also just below the 53.4 percent from last month. Essentially, the number means that service demand is still growing, though not at as fast a pace.

A pair of important new reports were released on Wednesday with the Job Openings Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) revealing that there were 8.86 million positions available in February. This was roughly in line with what analysts expected and just below the 8.89 million openings in January.

Also on Wednesday, the ADP nonfarm payroll report was made public. It found that the economy added 140,000 jobs in February compared to an expected 149,000. However, this was still an increase from the 111,000 jobs added in January.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell gave prepared remarks on Wednesday and said that the path to 2 percent inflation would likely be a bumpy one. However, he also said that rate cuts would likely be appropriate in the near future if the economy continued to evolve as expected. He expressed a similar sentiment in another speech given on Thursday morning.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the more anticipated NFP. It found that there were 275,000 jobs added to the economy in February, which was much higher than the 198,000 projected. Furthermore, it was revealed that the unemployment rate had gone up to 3.9 percent and average hourly earnings on a monthly basis had gone up by .1 percent. It was expected that the unemployment rate would be 3.7 percent and that average hourly earnings would have increased by .2 percent.

The Dow lost 258 points this week to finish at 38,722. It would make a weekly high of 39,064 on Monday before dipping to a low of 38,474 on Tuesday. Despite the losses this week, the Dow is still up 2.67 percent for the year.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 lost 7.51 points to finish at 5,123 for the week. It would hit a weekly low of 5,056 on Tuesday before rebounding and making a high of 5,187 on Friday morning. The S&P has gained 8.03 percent in 2024.

Finally, the Nasdaq would also give back some of its gains this week finishing 155 points lower to close at 16,085. The market made a low of 15,869 on Tuesday and a high of 16,429 on Friday. As with the other markets, the Nasdaq is up 8.93 percent this year.

In overseas news, Switzerland reported on Monday that inflation rose to .6 percent on a monthly basis. On Tuesday, Australia reported gross domestic product growth of .2 percent in the past quarter. The Bank of Canada decided to hold its interest rate steady at 5 percent on Wednesday. On Friday, the BOC announced that the country’s unemployment rate was still 5.8 percent although more than 40,000 jobs were added in the last month.

The upcoming week will see the release of inflation figures. Price, retail sale and unemployment claim data are all set to be released on Thursday while the Empire State Manufacturing Index will be made public on Friday. The University of Michigan will also release its preliminary sentiment and inflation expectation data for the month.

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